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If you're calling emergency 911, Montana dispatchers may ask about flu symptoms

Posted at 5:49 PM, Mar 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-25 16:10:51-04

If you call emergency dispatch 911 anytime soon, there may be some new information dispatchers will ask you before they send help your way.

Leaders in Billings say they're forced to change up some things because of the continuous spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by coronavirus.

Along with the typical questions concerning location and the type of help you need, dispatchers will likely ask if you're experiencing "flu-like symptoms."

Billings Fire Chief Bill Rash said Tuesday although the question is generic, it helps first responders avoid COVID-19 exposure.

Rash also says callers may expect to be placed on hold because dispatchers are trying to prioritize emergencies.

In Yellowstone County, there's already been eight positive cases of COVID-19 as of Tuesday afternoon, two of which have come from healthcare workers.

Rash says in general, call takers will ask the following:

* Location (where is help needed)
* The telephone number the complainant is calling from
* Is the caller or anyone involved in the incident experiencing flu-like symptoms. (This generic question is being asked in order to provide responders information that may help them avoid a COVID19 exposure).
* The remainder of the interrogation is based on what is being reported
* Law enforcement calls
* A brief description of what’s happening
* If a suspect is in the area or on scene a description will be obtained
* Whether or not the caller wants the responding officer to contact them in person.
* Caller’s name
* Fire calls
* Most callers reporting a fire provide a lot of information up front (ex: my house is on fire)
* Further interrogation would be predicated on what information fits the situation being reported (ex: is anyone inside the house).
* Caller’s name is obtained at the conclusion of the call.
* EMS calls
* Questions/instructions will be asked/provided  based on what the caller reports as the chief complaint